Prostate Examination Changes Life
‘I think a Prostate examination would be appropriate Dave’, my GP suggested after discounting a possible hip operation. Within a day or two things got moving. Appointment made to see an urologist. A biopsy, 21 shots, no anesthetic. Facing a stern lecture, ‘you have grade 9 cancer with a 92% chance of being outside your prostate.’ Showing me an array of extremely gruesome photos and diagrams he said, ‘I will preform an operation, but in my opinion Christmas this year will be your last.’
Brutal frankness of my urologist and events of the previous couple of weeks had my mind racing. Thinking a hip operation as an alternative would not be so bad after all. Taking him up on his offer to arrange another opinion, I very gladly accepted the services of an oncologist.
Although one in three New Zealanders face the horrible news some time in their life they have some form of cancer, I have remained rather philosophical over the ordeal, choosing to look for sunshine. As in many countries, our health system is in tatters, but cancer treatment is generally funded and once there, we are moved along very efficiently, generally. CT scans, PET CT scan, hormone injections, bone scan, interviews, tattoo then 39 treatments of 20 zaps (more or less) of radiation. Plus an ‘alternative’, administered myself since the beginning.
My routine seemed a little different to most, who preferred to stay in a cancer house nearby and go home in the weekends. AM, milked my cows, home for a shower, drive to the city, find a park, rush into the cancer clinic, change into the folded and tagged gowns then sat down and made conversation and wait my turn with one or some of the twenty or so other unfortunate folk scheduled around my time slot, have treatment and home for lunch. We had to arrive with empty bowels and full bladder. ‘Drink lots of water‘, was the order on arrival. Getting accustomed to just how much water took me a few days as the radiotherapists found out. Laid out on the table, radiation resumed, I realized my mistake, I needed to pee. The more I thought about how much longer treatment would go for, the worse I got. I was convinced I could not wait. I spoke out to an empty room,’I need to take a pee’. Silence! ‘Did no one hear me’ I anxiously thought. ‘Pardon me?’, came the eventual reply over an intercom. ‘I need to take a pee’, More silence. Then a nurse came in, let me loose and smilingly said,’don’t pee it all Dave’. Easier said than done.
I am grateful to still be around six years on, but not necessarily for myself. It became very clear to me right from the beginning that cancer patients are not the only victims. Spouses, grandchildren and old dogs lives are affected as well. Cancer is cancer none the less, killing one in seven of us and as my oncologist says, prostate cancer might not get you, but something else will. An interesting observation conspicuous to many cancer patients I have spoken with is we discover the quality (or not) of our friends. In some cases it seems as if in sickness we are no longer any use, so are cut loose. Another interesting point to me being, most cancer patients speak more freely among one another of their illness, side effects and intimate family and spousal problems, than they might to people much closer to them. Looking forward one week at a time allows more energy to focus on the brighter side of each week.